Brief History of Lemp Mansion
The Lemp Mansion was built in the early 1860's and was subsequently purchased by William J. Lemp as a residence and auxiliary brewery office. Although it was already an impressive structure, Lemp used his massive brewery fortune to turn the thirty-three room house into a Victorian showplace.
The radiator system was installed in 1884, five years after radiant heat was patented. The grand staircase was removed to accommodate an open-air lift that ran the gamut of the house. The decorative iron gates in the basement restaurant are all that remain of the elevator. In 1904 the house was completely renovated. To the left of the main entrance is the former brewery office, where William Jr. committed suicide. The decorative mantle is Italian marble.
To the right is the parlor, with its hand-painted ceiling and intricately carved mantles of African mahogany. Behind the parlor is an atrium where the Lemps kept exotic plants and birds. The main bathroom is dominated by a unique glass-enclosed, free-standing shower that Lemp discovered in an Italian hotel and brought back to St. Louis for his personal use. Other unusual fixtures in the room are a barber chair and a sink with glass legs. At the rear of the house are three massive vaults that the Lemps built to store great quantities of art objects. The Lemps were such avid art collectors that they could not display all of their acquisitions. Each vault is fifteen feet wide, twenty-five feet deep, and thirteen feet high.
The bedrooms were on the second floor. The main bathroom has a white granite shower stall and a marble and cast-iron mantle. The servants' quarters were located on the third floor, which boasts cedar walk-in closets, a skylight and an observation deck. The mansion does not have a ballroom in the traditional sense because the Lemps built an auditorium, ballroom and swimming pool in a natural underground cavern that could be reached from a now-sealed tunnel in the basement. Another tunnel led from the house to the brewery.
The wine and beer cellars, laundry and kitchen were located in the basement. The huge kitchen that once served the elite of St. Louis society has been completely modernized and now serves the honored guest of the historic Lemp Mansion Restaurant.